Fastest 5G phones revealed — and Galaxy S21 blows away the iPhone 12

samsung galaxy s21 ultra 5g phone
(Image credit: Future)

5G networks promise faster speeds than the LTE bands most of us are on. But often, those gains aren't always as big as were initially promised. Luckily, if you've got a 5G-capable phone from Samsung, chances are you're reaping the benefits of all that added speed.

A new study by network testing firm OpenSignal looks at 5G performance by individual models of phone. It paints a very promising picture for Samsung handsets, with the Korean phone maker claiming 60% of the 5G devices offering the 25 fastest download speeds.

The newly released Galaxy S21 heads the list with an average download speed of 56 Mbps, topping the Revvl 5G, a TCL-built phone for T-Mobile's 5G network, and the OnePlus 8T. Two other Samsung S21 models — the Galaxy S21 Plus and Galaxy S21 Ultra also cracked the top 10.

OpenSignal fastest 5G phones

(Image credit: OpenSignal)

The dominance by the S21 family when it comes to 5G performance is certainly good news for Samsung, but it could also mean big things for the other Android phones coming out this year. 

Samsung's new phones are the first to reach the U.S. with Qualcomm's Snapdragon 888 chipset, which includes an embedded 5G modem. We figure to see many more Android devices powered by the Snapdragon 888 before the year is out, so it's possible the S21 will soon have company near the top of the list for the fastest 5G speeds. And we expect some of these phones to break into our best Android phones list as well.

In addition to Samsung's strong showing, you'll also find a few foldable phones on the OpenSignal List for best 5G performance. That's a bit of surprise as the design of foldable phones can make it challenging to place the antennas required for cellular connectivity.

Nevertheless, the Galaxy Z Flip 5G ranked 10th overall with a 5G download speed of 44.7 Mbps. Other foldables ranking in the Top 25 included Samsung's other foldable phone, the Galaxy Z Fold 2, as well as the LG Wing and Motorola Razr 5G.

You won't find any Apple devices among the top 25 fastest 5G phones, though the news isn't all bad for iPhone fans. The iPhone 12 family posted the biggest jump from 4G download speeds to 5G performance — a 2.3x improvement, according to OpenSignal. The testing firm credits those gains to Apple's shift to Qualcomm modems in its 5G iPhones.

OpenSignal fastest 5G phones

(Image credit: OpenSignal)

Still, among major brands, Apple finds itself trailing not only Samsung, but also OnePlus, Google and LG for average download speeds in 5G areas. Apple's 5G speeds are anywhere from 7% to 18% slower depending on which Android phone maker you're comparing the iPhone to. If Apple's to take any comfort from OpenSignal's results, it's that the gap has narrowed with the shift to 5G from 4G.

OpenSignal conducted its testing from Nov. 11, 2020 to Feb. 26. Those 5G speeds figure to get even faster throughout 2021. Not only due to the arrival of more phones with faster modems, but because carriers are continuing to build up 5G coverage.

Philip Michaels

Philip Michaels is a Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. He's been covering personal technology since 1999 and was in the building when Steve Jobs showed off the iPhone for the first time. He's been evaluating smartphones since that first iPhone debuted in 2007, and he's been following phone carriers and smartphone plans since 2015. He has strong opinions about Apple, the Oakland Athletics, old movies and proper butchery techniques. Follow him at @PhilipMichaels.